Edward Payson Roe.

A Young Girl's Wooing online

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permanent effect upon her character. It did not result in a very
high type of womanhood, for the limitations of her nature scarcely
permitted this; but it brought about decided changes for the better.
She was endowed with fair abilities and a certain hard, practical
sense, which enabled her to see the folly of her former scheme of
life. Blind, inconsiderate selfishness, which asked only, "What do I
wish the present moment?" had brought humiliation and disaster, and,
as her father had suggested, she possessed too much mind to repeat
that blunder. She recognized that she could not ignore natural
laws and duties and go very far in safety. Therefore, instead of
querulousness and repining, or showing useless resentment toward
her father for misfortunes which she had done nothing to avert, she
stepped bravely and helpfully to his side, and amid all the chaos of
the financial storm that was wrecking him he was happier than he had
been for years. Her beloved jewelry, and everything that could be
legally saved from their dismantled home, was disposed of to the best
advantage. Then very modest apartments were taken in a suburb, and
both she and her father began again. He obtained a clerkship at a
small salary, and she aided her mother in making every dollar go as
far as possible.

Arnault had thought, under the impulse of his pride, that he could
renounce her forever, but found himself mistaken. She would not depart
from such heart as he possessed, nor could he break the spell of
her fascination. His interest grew so absorbing that he kept himself
informed about the changes she was passing through, and her manner
of meeting them. As a result, his practical soul was filled with
admiration, and he felt that she of all others would be the wife for
a man embarked on the uncertain tides of Wall Street. At last he wrote
to her and renewed his offer. The reply was characteristic.

"Your offer comes too late. If, instead of being one of the principal
actors in that humiliating little drama of my life, you had stood by
me patiently and faithfully, I would have given you at once my deepest
gratitude and, eventually, my love. I did not deserve such constancy,
but I would have rewarded it to the extent of my ability. You thought
I was mercenary. I was, and have been punished; but you forget that
you made my mercenary spirit your ally, and kept me from becoming
engaged to the man whom you well knew that I preferred. My regard
for him is not so deep, however, but that I shall survive and face
my altered fortunes bravely. If you had been kind to me during those
bitter days - if you had kept my father from failure, instead of
deserting him after he had done his best for you - he did do his best
for you - I should have valued _you_ more than your wealth, and proved
it by my life. I have since learned that I am not afraid of poverty,
and that I must find truer friends."

Arnault, like so many others, turned from what "might have been" to
his pursuit of gold, but it had lost its brightness forever.

An old admirer of Stella's, a plain, sturdy business man, to whom she
had scarcely given a thought in her palmy days, eventually renewed his
attentions, and won as much love as the girl probably could have given
to any one. By his aid she restored her father's broken fortunes and
established them on a modest but secure basis, and she proved to her
husband a sensible wife, always recognizing that in promoting his best
interests and happiness she secured her own.

Dr. Sommers is still the genial physician and the Izaak Walton of
the Catskills. Mr. and Mrs. Wendall are "plodding toward home" with a
resignation that is almost cheerful.

Henry Muir continues devoted to business, and his wife is devoted
to him. He rarely permits a suitable opportunity to pass without
remarking that the two sisters are the "most sensible women in the
world."



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Online LibraryEdward Payson RoeA Young Girl's Wooing → online text (page 27 of 27)